ALBANY — Congressional Republicans showed no hesitation in firing back at Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday after the Democrat prodded them to deliver federal stimulus aid directly to state and local governments.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-North Country, lashed out at Cuomo after the governor said members of New York's GOP delegation should "lead by example."
"Let the Republican Congress people stand up and say: 'You know what? You can't tell the people of my district to go to heck,'" Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters. "You can't tell the people of the North Country we're not going to give you any aid."
Stefanik accused Cuomo of waging a "false attack." She noted the governor had to be pressured by her to release federal health care funding to struggling county governments.
"It's no wonder the governor's current approval ratings are in the abysmal 20s in the North Country," said Stefanik, a supporter of President Donald Trump.
Cuomo sharpened his attack for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky. He labeled them "federal bag men" who he said deprived New York of its fair share of federal aid while driving assistance to their own states.
The remark found its way back to Paul, who tweeted in response: "Hey @NYGovCuomo, I’d rather be accused of helping my state get back bags of their money than be remembered for having more bodybags per capita than anyplace on earth."
The heated rhetoric came amid indications that GOP leaders in Washington have not embraced Cuomo's demand for a massive infusion of federal aid to help New York during a worsening fiscal crisis.
In May, when Cuomo viewed the first stimulus package as being insufficient for the state's needs, he skewered New York Democrats in Washington, contending they did not advocate strenuously enough for greater support for the state.
On Monday, the governor said: "I understand Washington is not willing to put aside politics, even in the middle of a COVID pandemic, which is just disgusting, frankly. But it's also devastating economic news. Even Republican economists will tell you there can be no economic recovery if you starve state and local governments."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the package touted by McConnell as "totally inadequate."
While Schumer favors a package approved by the House of Representatives in May, McConnell scoffed at the Democratic legislation as a "socialist manifesto."
Cuomo, releasing the latest statewide infection data, said 11 more New Yorkers died from the contagion Sunday, with an additional 608 people testing positive for the virus.
He suggested the infection rate is strongly impacted by whether people are complying with guidance to wear masks in public settings and maintain their social distance when interacting with others.
The latest infection rate was approximately 1%.
An ongoing crackdown at bars and restaurants for ignoring pandemic safety measures led to violation notices being meted out Sunday to 27 downstate establishments. Several dozen additional violations were issued earlier in the weekend by a state task force.
Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach him at email@example.com